Today’s entry: Brian, about your story explaining how Florida politicians gained the “right” to issue emergency orders which in effect become law. It’s frightening that any governor and mayor can declare an emergency and infringe on our rights. Are there any time limitations on orders? What keeps them from becoming defacto dictators? Thanks for all you do to bring truth to light!
Bottom Line: Yes, there are limits on the use of declared emergencies under Florida’s current law. The pertinent language says, "The state of emergency shall continue until the Governor finds that the threat or danger has been dealt with to the extent that the emergency conditions no longer exist and she or he terminates the state of emergency by executive order or proclamation, but no state of emergency may continue for longer than 60 days unless renewed by the Governor. The Legislature by concurrent resolution may terminate a state of emergency at any time".
So, it’s like this. No emergency order is valid for more than 60 days but the governor has full discretion to renew an order if they want to. In that regard the 60-day limitation is about as weak of a check against executive authority as you could have. The real check against executive authority requires action by the state legislature.
The law states that the Legislature can end an emergency declaration at any time by a concurrent resolution. A concurrent resolution requires both the state senate and house passing a resolution putting an end to an emergency declaration. Given that they’re only in session 60 days a year, and won’t be again until 2021 unless there’s a special session called, it isn’t the quickest or easiest thing to achieve if they determined it was necessary. It certainly isn’t as efficient as the governor’s order or local governments use law enforcement to immediately impose their directives. This points back elections having consequences – with local elections often having the biggest impact in your daily life. That should be as clear now as ever. It’s my hope that increased awareness and civic engagement is a positive byproduct of this pandemic. Additionally, perhaps we should advocate restricting the extremely broad authority granted to executive officials with our state legislators. They have the ability to change the law.
Personal liberty is at the core of our country’s founding. If we’re to err on any particular side of an issue, it would seem most appropriate that it be freedom. What’s happened during the course this pandemic now feels more like tyranny than the freedom to me. With Memorial Day upon us the irony of this conversation isn’t lost on me. Freedom isn’t free. We all have a responsibility to preserve it. For those of us not in service to this country, it should at a minimum come with informed and thoughtful choices at the voting booth. Vote for freedom and those who’d error on the side of it. It’s the premise of our country.
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